Hickenlooper Tours Ft Lyon Prison

The state is ready to close the doors on Ft Lyon Correctional Facility in Las Animas at the end of August. Governor Hickenlooper met with about 70 prison employees while he toured the facilities this past Wednesday, and met with representatives from Bent, Otero and Prowers counties, the areas to be hardest hit by the future closing.

The governor said he understood the economic consequences closing the facility would have on 204 employees and the surrounding towns, but he stated, “Ft Lyon costs the state more to operate than any other prison in our system”, based on the level of needed security and supervision. He added, “it’s not a question of adding more prisoners to the facility” referring to the fact that the Ft Lyon prison population is not at capacity. Hickenlooper told the gathering that the prison was never designed as such, but was converted from a former VA medical facility. The governor’s office believes over $6million could be saved by the closing. Ft Lyon isn’t being singled out, but part of an economic pattern the state is experiencing, adding, “This is a recession, unlike any of us have experienced in our lifetimes.” He predicted another round of state budget cuts in November, in the neighborhood of from $450 to $500 million dollars.

Addressing what it would take to help the economy of Bent County and the region in light of the closing, the governor said it needed to be done in a way to cause the least amount of disruption and perhaps, we can find outside parties interested in purchasing the existing prison buildings. Hickenlooper said there has been some interest at this point, but he was not ready to name any specific group or individuals. He said getting the buildings back to work and preserving as many jobs as possible is urgent, and the state Department of Local Affairs and Office of Economic Development will weigh in on potential solutions.

Governor Hickenlooper added that if this was happening along the Front Range or Denver, the prison would still be proposed for closing. He said the main difference in this case is that there are more available jobs to offset the closing in the metro areas. One prison staff member said he’s been with the Department of Corrections for 13 years and four of them at Ft Lyon. “I hope that clear heads will prevail in this situation,” he stated.

Filed Under: communityEconomyFeaturedPolitics


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.